Reading: / Table Completion / Part 6

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-6, which are based on Reading Passage below.


Throughout history, new parents have experienced the pressures and responsibilities that come with rearing a child. The mother in particular, for biological and societal reasons, is under stress to fulfill the expectations that she and society puts on her. Donald Winnicott, a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst, broke ground and shocked those around him with his original views on the relationship between children and their mothers. Winnicott challenged the traditional and idealised view of parenting and provided theory and guidance that was more grounded in the reality of parenthood. Winnicott’s notions of the ‘good-enough’ mother and the facilitating environment that he described remain important in the study of child development.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that most parents try to provide the best for their children, and many feel guilty when they are not able to do so, especially when many women and men in the modern world try to balance personal and professional lives with perfect parenthood. This key role for adults in today’s world has led to this subject being intensively examined and various theories of parenting being created. While a variety of models have informed the development of parenting programmes, four core theories underpin the majority of them.

Social learning theory is based on the assumption that children’s behaviour will improve when appropriately reinforced; good behaviour is rewarded and bad behaviour is either ignored or appropriately sanctioned. Social learning theory-based programmes teach parents strategies for punishing child misconduct and rewarding positive behaviour.

Attachment theory is based on the notion that an infant’s ability to form a strong emotional bond with their primary caregiver is a natural part of its development. The security of this bond, also known as attachment security, is largely determined by the parents’ ability to respond sensitively and appropriately to their infant’s bids for attention. Programmes based on attachment theory therefore aim to improve parental sensitivity by increasing parents’ understanding of their children’s requirements and attachment related conduct.

Parenting styles theory is based on research that suggests children’s behaviour is directly related to their parent’s child-rearing practices. Parents who combine high levels of parental warmth with high levels of supervision are likely to have children who are more confident, more autonomous and more socially responsible. This parenting style is often referred to as an authoritative style of parenting, as it recognises the child as an individual in his or her own right. For this reason, many parenting programmes include elements that encourage parents to allow their children to experience risk-taking amidst high levels of supervision.

The model of human ecology assumes that a child’s development is determined by his or her interaction within the environments of the individual, family, school, community and culture. Each of these environments contains elements that can either improve a child’s life outcomes or place them at risk for adversity. Every family is unique in terms of these risk and protective factors influencing it. Programmes based on this model consider ways to strengthen protective factors in order to manage any on-going risks.

Winnicott’s idea of a facilitating environment created for a child by a ‘good-enough mother’, who is supported by throndus process within an ordinary mother who is fond of her baby. Winnicott suggests that during pregnancy, a mother develops a state of heightened sensitivity, which continues to be maintained for some weeks after the baby’s birth. When this heightened state passes, the mother has what Winnicott calls a ‘flight into sanity’, and she begins to be aware of the world that exists outside of her state of primary maternal preoccupation with her infant.

The good-enough mother then continues to provide an environment that facilitates healthy maturational processes in her baby. She achieves this by being the person who wards off the unpredictable and who actively provides care in the holding, handling and in the general management of the child. The good-enough mother provides physical care and meets her baby’s need for emotional warmth and love. She also protects her baby against those parts of her from which murderous feelings are brought forth when, for example, her baby screams, yells and cries continuously. By containing her own hateful feelings about her baby, and using them to intuit the baby’s terror and hate, the good-enough mother facilitates her baby’s thoughts and expressions of omnipotence by adapting to his needs until such time as he gradually begins to feel safe enough to relinquish these feelings. At this stage, the process of integration can start and the baby begins to develop a sense of ‘me’ and ‘not me’. To achieve this shift in the baby, the good-enough mother must, by a gradual process, fail to adapt to her baby’s needs in order that the baby can begin to learn to tolerate the frustrations of the world outside of himself and his mother.

Winnicott intended to take the pressure off women who became mothers, but critics have argued that Winnicott’s idea of the good-enough mother has placed the undue expectations upon the ‘real’ mother that she must shoulder most of the responsibility for the care of her baby. Furthermore, she is held responsible for how well her baby flourishes. Like many social theories of child development, it is clear to outsiders that real life practice exhibits characteristics of all theory and most parents show parts of each theory in order to adapt naturally to whatever situations arise. Nevertheless, Winnicott’s ideas have been a source of comfort and hope to many mothers who have naturally struggled with the challenge of motherhood.

Questions 1- 6

Complete the table below. Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 1 - 6 on your answer sheet.



Social Learning Theory

Based on how reactions to children’s (1) __________ are reinforced.



Good conduct is rewarded and poor conduct ignored or sanctioned.



Parents can be taught (2) __________ for the above.



Attachment Theory

Based on the powerful (3) _________ between an infant and its caregiver



and how this is created by how parents deal with their Children’s needs.



Parents can be taught a better sensitivity and (4) __________ of



Children’s needs and behaviour.


Parenting Styles Theory  

Based on the relationship between a children’s behaviour and the parents’ parenting skills. Also known as an authoritative style

Parents are taught to encourage appropriate (5) __________.



Human Ecology

Based on a child’s relationship with its environment and the risks within it.

Parents are taught to improve (6) __________ related to the risks.